Thanks to a relentless news cycle — and a dedicated fan in the Oval Office — Fox News has defied the downward trends in the television business, notching its highest-rated year in 2017 even as audiences dwindled for many networks.
But the mass migration of viewers away from traditional cable and satellite packages is accelerating. And now Fox News is plotting a leap into the uncertain digital future that rivals like CNN have so far put off.
On Tuesday, Fox News is set to announce Fox Nation, a stand-alone subscription service available without a cable package. The streaming service, expected to start by the end of the year, would focus primarily on right-leaning commentary, with original shows and cameos by popular personalities like Sean Hannity.
It would not overlap with Fox News’s 24-hour cable broadcast — not even reruns — because of the channel’s contractual agreements with cable operators. Instead, the network is planning to develop hours of new daily programming with a mostly fresh slate of anchors and commentators.
“Fox Nation is designed to appeal to the Fox superfan,” John Finley, who oversees program development and production for Fox News, said in an interview. “These are the folks who watch Fox News every night for hours at a time, the dedicated audience that really wants more of what we have to offer.”
Finley said the network was still discussing the cost of a subscription.
The Fox News venture joins an increasingly crowded — and increasingly niche — marketplace for web-only streaming television.
ESPN is starting its subscription service, ESPN Plus, in the spring. About 5 million viewers signed up last year for HBO and Cinemax digital subscriptions. This past week, CBS said it counted 5 million subscriptions to its CBS and Showtime streaming services, and it plans to add two more stand-alone products, CBS Sports HQ and an offering branded for “Entertainment Tonight.”